F. B. Meyer
Hints for Lay Preachers A
(Chapters 1 & 2)
Meyer's thoughts on preaching to various facets of a person's life in chapter 2 is noteworthy and will bless many a pastor's efforts in preaching!
Chapter 1 “Be Sure of Your Message”
There is a great difference between delivering a sermon and uttering a message. The highest ideal of a sermon is when it is delivered as a message from the Most High. It was assumed in Bible times that men spoke for God.
• Acts 15:12: Barnabas and Paul rehearsed what signs and wonders God had wrought through them.
• Rom. 15:18: Paul dared not speak anything save that which God had worked through him to save the gentiles.
Are we working for God, or is God working through us? If so,
“The one desire of the servant of God is to realize that he is entrusted with a message, that his address to his congregation is not that of an advocate, but of a witness, and that he is the medium of passing on the special burden of the Lord.”
Such messages are obtained when seeking them through prayer, or when matters of spiritual difficulty come to our attention.
Because we are delivering a message on behalf of the king, it must be delivered in a careful manner that reflects the one we serve and the serious nature of the message we deliver.
“We have no right to deliver the divine though in a slipshod or slovenly manner. The apple of gold must be set in the frame of silver. The King’s words must be engrossed on parchment or vellum. There must be a full use of every method which would enhance to others the sense of the glory and claims of Him for whom we speak.”
Chapter 2 “One Aim and Purpose”
There is great danger in introducing too many themes. Meyer points out that pastors could learn a great deal from lawyers and how they argue cases in a court of law.
“What a contrast there is between the styles of some preachers and that of the barrister. They talk about their subject, and say many pretty and edifying things, which sound well, and would read well, which are pleasantly conceived and elegantly expressed. They walk about Zion, and go round about her, telling her towers, and considering her palaces, but they do not dream of making a breach in her walls, and carrying them by an assault. The other (the barrister) fixes on some salient point in his brief which is capable of being driven home, as a wedge to split a tree. However far he may seem from it, he always returns to it at last; and the jury leave the box with one thought or fact that demands consideration, and becomes the standpoint from which they view the whole case.”
“He is a successful preacher of the highest order who manages to present one great conception before his people each time he addresses them, so that, as they break from the spell of his influence, they may be possessed by one thought, inspired by one motive, and compelled towards one act.”
He goes on to list Charles Spurgeon and Phillips Brooks as great preachers in this respect, though he warns of differences with the latter in theology.
“Mr. Spurgeon would show how that one thought appeared under the light of each of the doctrines of grace, how it had to do with every possible experience, how it solved every kind of difficulty. As you listened to him, you began to realize the importance of some fragment of truth which you had previously hardly considered. As you listened to him, you began to realize the importance of some fragment of truth, which you had previously hardly considered. For the moment, it filled the entire horizon of your soul.”
Everything that detracts from the final objective is to be avoided and cut out. All that is included should be carefully focused on where the sermon is heading.
Finally, he shares what is perhaps the most important statement in the whole book:
“In every sermon we should present our theme to the intellect with a thoughtful exposition of its truth; to the imagination, that it may be seen under the prismatic lens; to the conscience, that it may receive the sanction and acquiescence of what is best in man; to the heart, that the fountain of emotion may be deeply stirred; to the will that it may be forced to take sides, and choose. Take your wares, oh, heavenly merchantman, to each door of Mansoul. Perchance, if one is barred against you, another may be opened. Only take no refusal, and persist in the reiteration from every key, and instrument, and dialect, of the one message which the Spirit has laid upon your soul.”